by Michael Holland    

In life, as in sports, we do well when we practice like we play. In other words, if we practice desired behaviors in ways that mimic how we’d behave in real situations, we will prepared to fully activate those behaviors at game time.  We will have created muscle memory.

As we close out the year, leaders should focus on these 4 activities to make sure they finish the year strong.

Your Sweet Spot

Determine the 2 or 3 things that you do that are your talents and your passion.  Approach this process by drawing 10 circles on a piece of paper.  Fill in circles with the different buckets of work you perform.

  • Pick the 2 or 3 circles which contain work where your talent and passions converge.
  • Encircle each of these several times so that they stand out.  You want to do more of this stuff in 2017.
  • For the remaining circles, draw up a quick action plan on how to reduce or eliminate this work from your world through delegation, either down, across, or up. (see more info on Managing Up in our Leadwell Knowledgebase)

Make a List and Check It Twice

Take a measurement on the value of the human capital asset you are charged with managing.  Where are your employees in relation to where you thought they would be at this point in the year? Is their value increasing or decreasing?  

  • Make a list of your employees.
  • Working quickly, write down where you thought they would be performance-wise at this point in the year.  Was there a major accomplishment or activity?  Are they trending well or not so well?
  • Finally, draw a small arrow next to each employee either going up (value increased through the year), going sideways (neutral value) or going down (negative value).
  • Assess the overall trend line for your team.

Your Legacy Speech

Think about the work you and your team have accomplished over the last year.  Write up a short speech that your boss might read at an awards ceremony acknowledging the successes.

  • What leadership behaviors would she mention?
  • What would she say about the cohesiveness of the team you’ve built?
  • What were the major accomplishments of the team?
  • What would you highlight from this speech on your LinkedIn profile and resume?

2017 Vision Pitch

Looking forward into 2017, compose in your own words your vision for the next 8 to 15 months for your team.  This is especially important for new managers and managers with small teams. Where will you be taking your team? 

  • Visualize yourself and your team working in the future with successes under your belt and strong team behaviors.
  • Prepare yourself to deliver portions of your vision to varying groups at opportune times.
  • Refine the pitch to a
    • 27-second blurb for coffee conversations
    • 74-second recap to reorient an employee or the team on priorities
    • 2-minute inspirational speech.  (FYI, President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was only slightly over 2 minutes.)
    • And practice: you never know when the chance to deliver your pitch will come!

Great leaders leading well continually assess how their talents are being leveraged, how their team is progressing, where they are taking their team, and they finish the year strong.

Build the skills and behaviors now to become a great leader or to continue your trend line of great leadership.  And remember, practice like you play.

Coaching Thoughts – For You and Your Peers

  • How do the 4 activities listed help managers to practice how they play? Have you found any other activities that are particularly helpful to you?
  • How can you encourage peer leaders to follow the advice in this Leadership Learning Moment?
  • Which one of the activities is the most important to you?  Why?